Today is Saturday, Dec. 26, the 360th day of 2009 with five to follow.
The moon is waxing. The morning stars are Venus, Saturn and Mars. The evening stars are Mercury, Jupiter, Uranus and Neptune.
Those born on this date are under the sign of Capricorn. They include English poet Thomas Gray in 1716; English inventor Charles Babbage, who developed the first speedometer, in 1791; Adm. George Dewey, the U.S. naval hero of Manila, in 1837; writer Henry Miller in 1891; Mao Zedong, leader of the Chinese communist revolution, in 1893; actor Richard Widmark in 1914; entertainer Steve Allen in 1921; comedian Alan King in 1927; music producer Phil Spector in 1940 (age 69); and dogsled racer Susan Butcher in 1954.
On this date in history:
In 1776, American forces under Gen. George Washington, having crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night, defeated Hessian mercenary troops fighting for the British at the Battle of Trenton, N.J.
In 1908, Jack Johnson became the first African-American to win the world heavyweight boxing title when he knocked out Tommy Burns in the 14th round near Sydney, Australia.
In 1917, the federal government took over operation of U.S. railroads for the duration of World War I.
In 1972, Harry Truman, 33rd president of the United States, died at age 88.
In 1974, legendary comedian Jack Benny died of cancer. He was 80.
In 1990, Nancy Cruzan, the focus of a right-to-die case that went to the U.S. Supreme Court, died in a Missouri hospital.
In 1993, members of China's Communist Party gathered in Beijing to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of Mao Zedong.
In 1996, child beauty queen JonBenet Ramsey, 6, was found slain in a basement room of her family's posh Boulder, Colo., home.
In 2001, the man captured as he tried to ignite explosives hidden in his sneakers aboard an American Airlines jet was identified as Richard Reid, a 28-year-old unemployed British citizen.
In 2003, more than 26,000 people were reported killed and thousands injured when an earthquake struck the ancient Iranian city of Bam.
Also in 2003, the death toll reached 135 in the crash of a Boeing 727 in Benin.
In 2004, a powerful earthquake triggered a tsunami in South and Southeast Asia, with waves 40 feet high slamming into India, Thailand, Indonesia and other countries, killing thousands of people.
Also in 2004, Ukraine opposition leader Viktor Yushchenko claimed victory in the court-ordered second vote in the country's presidential runoff. The earlier vote, which favored Prime Minister Viktor Yanukovych, was annulled after allegations of fraud.
In 2005, a report said U.S. President George W. Bush decided to skip seeking warrants for international wiretaps because the court that handles such matters was challenging his requests at an unprecedented rate.
In 2006, former U.S. President Gerald Ford died at his home in Rancho Mirage, Calif., at the age of 93. A Michigan congressman chosen by President Richard Nixon as vice president to succeed the resigned Spiro Agnew, Ford was elevated to president when the Watergate scandal drove Nixon from office in 1974.
Also in 2006, more than 200 people died when a gas pipeline being vandalized exploded in the Nigerian capital of Lagos.
And, a Baghdad appeals court upheld the death sentence for deposed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein for a 1982 massacre of 148 Shiite men.
In 2008, the Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity said it lost $15.2 million through its investment in the alleged fraudulent Bernard Madoff operation.
Also in 2008, Israeli officials reopened crossings into the Gaza Strip to allow transfer of medicine, food and other goods despite an escalation of violence along the border in recent days.
A thought for the day: Michel Eyquem de Montaigne said, "A man of understanding has lost nothing, if he has himself."